• By Nhat Quan
    There are those among you who often make the mistake of only cultivating externally and forgetting the Buddha in your heart, while Buddha taught that everyone has a Buddha nature, and everyone who practices can become a Buddha. But because you do wrong Buddha's will, you keep running around looking for Buddha outside, so you practice all the time without getting results.
    Indeed, on the path of practice, you keep letting your mind run outside, making your heart empty, and the more you search outside, the more trouble arises, and then you blame it on your practice, so your negative karma appears. Your negative karma appears because of your own mistakes. But if you know how to bring Buddha into your mind, at that time you already have Buddha in your mind, and of course you will manifest Buddha's appearance on the outside.
    If you want to always have Buddha in your mind, the Venerable Ones teach that while practicing, there are many ways, but the practice of bowing to Buddha and reciting Buddha's name to bring Buddha to your mind is the best method. When you bow to Buddha, at that time your mind thinks of Buddha, your mouth recites Buddha's name, and your body bows to Buddha. This means focusing the three karma of body, mouth, and mind towards Buddha. When your mind thinks about Buddha continuously for a long time, then Buddha is in your mind. Once Buddha is in your heart, you will see Buddha everywhere you look. Because at that time you see with your mind, not with your eyes. Indeed, when the eyes look at a tree, they see a tree, but their mind thinks of Buddha, so they see a tree as Buddha.
    In this direction, in the years 1975 to 1985, some people on the way across the sea said that when they were in danger but thought wholeheartedly about Avalokiteshvara, they saw Avalokiteshvara appear to help them. Therefore, if you want to always have Buddha in your mind, you must regularly bow to Buddha with your body, chant Buddha's name with your mouth, and think of Buddha in your mind. You must make an effort to practice to master your body, speech, and mind so that you have brought Buddha into your heart. If you do this, your practice will have good results.
    I saw someone praying the rosary with both hands, but their mouth was chattering about all kinds of things. To do so is to practice the habit of the hands, to practice only the hands, while the mouth and mind are not practiced. When your mouth speaks nonsense and your mind thinks evil, you will definitely fall.
    So the first thing you do is to practice the body first because using the body as a refuge to restrain the mind. That means when praying the rosary to focus on it, the main thing is to focus on the mind, not the hands. Prostrate to Buddha, because in front of a solemn Buddha statue, you can easily concentrate. When your mind is scattered and you can't meditate, you should recite Buddha's name with your mouth and physically bow to Buddha. Therefore, you must use your mouth to read the sutras, listen to the sutras with your ears, and pay attention to the sutras. If there is nothing to focus on, the mind cannot concentrate.
    This is the reason why Mahayana Buddhism uses gongs and bells to help the public chant in the right rhythm and for everyone to pay attention and read along. It is not important to constantly chant sutras with your body or to think that your body bows to Buddha so that Buddha can protect you, or to chant sutras so that Buddha can listen, is also not correct. Remember, chanting is a means, the main thing is for Buddha's teachings to penetrate into your mind. That is using external cultivation conditions to tie your mind and when your mind is pure, you will see Buddha everywhere. Practicing, if your mind is always focused, you can see Buddha when you close your eyes and you can see Buddha when you sleep. So, know you have taken a step forward. Holding the rosary with your hands, saying all sorts of things with your mouth, and thinking bad thoughts is breaking the Dharma. Or holding a rosary with your hands and reciting Buddha's name with your mouth, but your mind is not focused on Buddha is also wrong.
    When there is Buddha in your mind, even though you have not yet attained enlightenment, you still feel peaceful. While cultivating while you have not yet brought Buddha into your mind, when your body breaks down, this practice will also be abandoned. As you know, everything must be left behind when the body of the seven great elements perishes, only the mind follows you. Therefore, the core of spiritual practice is to practice transforming the mind in the direction of holiness.
    Cultivators who have a pure mind and see Buddha wherever they look mean they have manifested a good appearance, that is, they have a lovely body. Understanding this principle, if you practice and no one loves you, you must know for yourself that you are wrong. Therefore, when the mind is good, the mind already has Buddha, the mind will have four appearances:
    - The appearance of kindness, the appearance of compassion, the appearance of joy, and the appearance of equanimity
    If the mind does not have these four characteristics, it is not yet cultivated. Buddha has 32 good signs and 80 beauties, and the Buddha's mind is kindness, compassion, joy, and forgiveness. You must examine yourself to see if your mind has the four minds of kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. If so, to what extent can it expand, and how many living beings can it accommodate?
    True practice is to open your mind more and more. If you practice wrongly, the more you practice, the narrower your mind becomes, unable to accommodate anyone. To practice to make your mind more and more spacious, at first, you can look at your fellow practitioners and see that everyone is good and know that your mind is expanding. But if, after a period of practice, jealousy appears and discomfort with other people's practice, then you know you are practicing the wrong method.
    There are people who practice and always obey the Dharma and obey the rules, so when they see people breaking the law, they are dissatisfied and people who practice other Dharma, they criticize. It's true that your practice is fundamentally wrong, meaning your compassion is narrowed and cannot accommodate anyone. So you practice opening your heart to friends who practice the same dharma as you, or not with your dharma. After that, expand your mind further to include everyone who practices outside your sect, but is also a Buddhist and also practices the Buddha's dharma. Buddha had 84,000 different Dharma methods, but Buddha also taught that anyone who practices any method can eventually become a Buddha. Those who practice well come first, those who practice poorly, but have planted good roots, are connected to the path, and one day they will also reach enlightenment.
    Buddha teaches what is suitable for you, helping you practice and reap the results. If the Dharma teaching is not suitable for you, it will do more harm than good. Indeed, initially, Buddha spoke the Four Noble Truths to help people escape suffering. Coming to the Lotus Assembly, the Buddha said that if you have attained Arhatship and are free from suffering, you must practice the Bodhisattva path and help people to become Buddhas. That means each stage of practice has different dharmas.
    In the direction of practice so that Buddha is always present in the mind, the venerable monks teach:
    - You must learn to see that everyone is good and needs help, whether they are good or bad to you.
    For bad people, you love them more, that is Buddha's compassion. The reason you love bad people more is because bad people harm good people because they harm themselves, because they will receive retribution, good people will not receive retribution. If you are a good person and are harmed, it means you have truly evil causes. Buddha taught that:
    - Harming good people is like blowing dust against the wind.
    If you are really good and they are bad to you, they must be punished. Like Ten Thousand Medicine Buddha Temple during construction, the guy working on the hardwood floor was deceived, so a number of young male Buddhists who knew the profession started helping, while the other guy continued to cheat customers, in the end, he was sued in court, and his wife also divorced. Therefore, if you are a good person, someone will help you sooner or later, and a bad person will be punished by the law sooner or later.
    On the path of practice, when your mind is open, when there is Buddha in your heart, compassion embraces everyone, for the benefit of the many, then everyone loves you, accepts you, and supports you. So, you are definitely doing it right. Indeed, thanks to the Buddha's mind, you have opened your mind to help those who love you and those who slander you, and then you look at life gently and peacefully, without any questions or worries. In any aspect, you can practice, and make many people love you and cooperate, helping you do some things easily.
    That's why Samantabhadra Bodhisattva taught that you should keep the precious things in the world that you can take with you, and the things of the world that need to be given up, you must give up, because you know sooner or later you will have to give them up, you should not keep them forever.
    The more your loving kindness extends, the more sentient beings will follow that loving-kindness to you. Reality shows that there are people who practice, but no one comes to them, because they are stubborn, no one can live with them, because they are too difficult. For example, if a person is too clean, a dirty person cannot live together. People often say that there are no fish in clear water. That's a stubborn person who can't do anything.
    When you have Buddha in your mind, you expand your tolerance. Deeply aware of this principle, Buddhist disciples must have compassion, and tolerance, and benefit many people. Demonstrating this spirit, when you act in any way, you do not discriminate, because by doing so, you demonstrate the Buddha's mind, which is a mind that does not discriminate.
    And when you don't have a discriminatory mind, you practice expanding your vision further through other religions. Personally, I look at religions although they have different names, but think that Buddhism and other religions also teach people to do good deeds. Except for sects that go against people's aspirations, which is to live in harmony, and love in harmony, you cannot accept it. As for sects that teach people to be honest, you should not discriminate against them. Most recently, Catholic missionaries also used a lot of Buddhist terms. Even every afternoon, there are Catholic believers who often go to the temple to worship Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the open air. When they met me, they happily greeted me and asked me to let them pay homage to Buddha. I also greeted them and encouraged them to feel free and not to be shy. That means my mind is open to people of other religions, so they can also come to Buddhism, making my heart happy, even though they are not disciples of the Buddha. That's why I often say the truth is one, but each person has their own way of practicing. For as, hundreds of rivers and thousands of streams all flow into the sea, meaning different methods of practice, and different religions, but enlightenment is one.
    So, first, your mind opens up. Buddha said that wherever your mind opens, people will come to you. If you close your mind, beware of being lonely. To know what level your mind has reached, look outside and see how many people come to you to know whether your mind is wide or narrow.
    Let's look at Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, wherever there are people suffering, he comes. Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara should have been in the Pure Land, but He developed great compassion and extended it to Saha because the people in Saha were so miserable. Buddha taught that living beings have to suffer, only then can people develop compassion. Without suffering, how can you love them?
    About the mind open, you initially develop the Bodhi mind, practice compassion next, and love your loved ones, including your parents, wife, children, brothers, and friends. But there are also people whose parents, wives, and children closest to them cannot love them, so you will not be able to love anyone. Sometimes, even though they are brothers, they fight over wealth and kill each other because their greed is so great that they lose all brotherhood. Therefore, as a Buddhist, you should calm down and think to neutralize all that is not good for everyone around you, such as:
    - Parents, siblings, wives and children, even friends,
    That's a relatively easy thing. Wherever your compassion begins to open up, you'll be there to help, but you have to have some wisdom, not all help is enough. Vietnamese people have a very good saying:
    - Help in difficult times, not help in poverty throughout life.
    - People in difficult circumstances, you help them overcome obstacles and have a better life, but you cannot help them eliminate poverty, because that is their karma.
    However, if you want to help, you can, but changing someone's karma must be gradual and not simple. Depending on their karma, you transform.
    For example, do not give money to gamblers. For people suffering from this karma, you help by finding a job for them to do to earn enough income to live. Thinking that giving them a lot of money will make them rich, they will continue to gamble and their life will be miserable because that is their karma. Of course, they can't pay you, then resentment arises, that's your fault. If you have wisdom and know their karma, you don't give them money, but help and create conditions for them to improve their lives.
    I see a good person giving you money to go to the temple to make merit, because this person wants merit, but doesn't have time, while if you don't have money, if you do merit, you won't have money to live. When they are helped like that, they create jobs for honest people and they also fulfill their wish for meritorious service.
    In short, when you know how to bring Buddha into your mind, or in other words when there is Buddha in your mind, you can easily manifest Buddha's teachings in life. At that time, wisdom is enlightened and loving-kindness and compassion are born, which is also the time when Bodhisattva conduct is present. Then everything you do is fully expressed from your heart to your actions. Practicing like that, although only Buddha and you know, but over time living according to the Dharma, step by step, without making mistakes, you will sublimate, meaning your mind will be at peace and your life will be better.
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